The police department received 139,199 emergency calls involving people in apparent emotional crisis through September, compared to 128,488 for the same period last year, its records show. But the agency over the years has come under fire for its assault on unstable New Yorkers, sometimes in encounters that have proven fatal.
In 1984, outrage and protest followed the police killing of Eleanor Bumpurs, a mentally ill woman gunned down during a confrontation at her apartment building in the Bronx. And in 2016, 66-year-old Deborah Danner, an emotionally disturbed woman, was shot dead by a police sergeant in her Bronx apartment. City officials said the officer did not follow protocol for dealing with an emotionally disturbed person.
New officers receive training at the Police Academy on dealing with emotionally disturbed people. City officials said it would take months for more intense preparation to deal with people who resist being taken to hospitals — an optimistic time frame for a department that has been cited for its incomplete and slow implementation such programs.
Last month, the city’s public attorney, Jumaane Williams, released a report that cited delays in efforts to address issues among the mentally ill population and urged an end to the use of police as the first answer line. According to a report from Mr Williams’ office, less than a third of all police officers received crisis training in 2019 before it was cut short by the pandemic.
It was also unclear to what extent the department was involved in discussions regarding the mayor’s new initiative.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell was notably absent at the mayor’s press conference announcing the policy. And a statement later sent by the police department’s press office said the agency would carry out the initiative, but it also implied that the radical plan had blind officials:
“The NYPD is currently in the process of aligning its policy, guidance, and training in accordance with the mayor’s directive, which the department received on Tuesday, November 29” – the day the mayor publicly announced it.